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Top Five Eco-friendly Festivals

Festival season’s in full swing and it looks set to be a summer filled with music and laughter- bliss! But, aside from the often hefty price tag of a weekend pass, do you know the true cost of that festival you just booked tickets for? According to Vision 2025’s The Show Must Go On 2020 report, 4.9 million of us here in the UK descend on the countryside to enjoy sunshine and music each year- but the impact that has on the environment is sobering to say the least. 

The UK festival industry uses seven million litres of fuel each year, it consumes 184.5 million litres of water and creates 25,800 tonnes of waste. It also generates 24,261 tonnes of CO2 per year too, which equates to 1.9kg per person. But this same report states that 83% of us “expect all of the festivals [we] attend to tackle their environmental impacts”- in other words, we want festival organisers to adopt more eco-friendly practises and to reduce waste overall. 

Yes, yes, yes! So which are the festivals taking all of this into consideration, and really worth us investing our time and money in this summer? Here are our top five eco friendly festivals- and we’d love to hear if there’s a favourite you attend that we’ve missed from our list!

Kendal Calling

Top Five Eco-friendly Festivals- image credit Kendal Calling

Where: Lowther Deer Park, Lake District

When: 27- 30 July 2023

What makes Kendal Calling eco-friendly?

The Leave Nothing But Memories campaign was set up in 2022 by the organisers of Kendal Calling, urging festival goers to make a pledge to:

  • Leave nothing  but memories- leave your camp tidy and take your tent home
  • Protect the wildlife- dispose of rubbish properly
  • Consider travel- public transport is encouraged
  • Only bring what you need
  • Make eco-conscious choices

So far, 2508 have signed the pledge, and Kendal Calling are doing their bit too. Their waste and recycling points have doubled across the site, single-use plastic is now banned (with more free drinking water points being installed) and organisers have set a new goal to reduce fuel usage from 2022 by 15-20%. In addition to this, the festival this year will reduce it’s energy consumption by up to 90% thanks to switching to LED festoon lighting. 

While this is a work in progress, we’re impressed with the achievements here so far. You can read more about Kendal Calling’s ongoing efforts to be more eco-friendly here. 

Green Man Festival

Top Five Eco-friendly Festivals- image credit Green Man Festival

Where: Brecon Beacons, Wales

When: 17-20 August 2023

What makes the Green Man Festival eco-friendly?

Green Man Festival is actually a founding supporter of Vision 2025, joining over 500 other organisations to take action on the climate crisis. The festival has pledged to reduce their environmental impact by 50% by 2025, and believe us when we tell you they are deadly serious about it too.

Green Man encourages all guests to donate any unwanted items at the end of the festival- to either Help Refugees or Newport to Calais Aid Collective. They’ve teamed up with National Express to offer direct coach travel, and with Red Fox Cycling to offer cycle trips to the festival too. The festival allows reusable cups and bottles only, and all cutlery is compostable with absolutely no single-use plastic on sale at all this year. 

Top Five Eco-friendly Festivals

Alongside this, Green Man has also made the move to compostable loos, with the addition of female squat urinals this year too. Compostable toilets are way more eco-friendly than traditional portaloos, requiring no water and using zero biocide chemicals, which  eliminates the need for sewage farm treatment. And you might be intrigued to discover that your waste will go full circle eventually- within just a couple of years, it will be ready to spread out on local farms! 

Top tip if you’re on your period- bring your WUKA Flex to make changing your period pants a little bit easier!

Toilet talk aside, Green Man festival scores high with us for other reasons too- for example, all of their power this year will come from hydrogen, solar or hydrotreated vegetable oil, helping to reduce emissions by 90%. 

Read more about their sustainability efforts here. 

Green Gathering

Top Five Eco-friendly Festivals- image credit Green Gathering

Where: Piercefield Park, Chepstow

When: 3-6 August 2023

What makes Green Gathering eco-friendly?

Billed as the ‘original off-grid festival, Green Gathering promises a weekend of “low-impact living, powered by the sun, wind, people and passion for change.” So how does it do this?

Green Gathering encourages all visitors to travel responsibly, with loads of advice for packing too. Alongside this, Green Gathering also goes above and beyond to ensure they’re not just eco-friendly as a festival but they’re educators too, providing guests with all that they need to ‘transform their own lives, and the world, for the better.’ 

The festival has clear policies for electrical power and lighting, transport, heating and cooking, food and drink, waste management and more. But it’s the Education, Social Impact and Behaviour Change policy that really seats Green Gathering apart from the rest. The policy ensures that the whole festival is a showcase of what we can all do to make a positive impact on the environment. 

Read more about their endeavours here. 

Shambala

Top Five Eco-friendly Festivals- image credit Shambala

Where: Secret Country Estate, Northamptonshire

When: 24-28 August2023

What makes Shambala eco-friendly?

Shambala’s impact report is online for all to see, and it’s pretty impressive too. Though last year’s festival saw 293 tonnes of audience travel emissions and an increase of carbon footprint by 25% compared to 2019, the festival actually offset 471 tonnes with renewable energy projects and tree planting. 

100% of their energy usage last year came from renewable HVO fuel in generators and grid connection using green tariff, they avoided 5,000 Tetrapaks by supplying oat milk in reusable bottles, they used 184,000 reusable cups and they raised £133, 807.45 for partner projects. 

What we really love though, is Shambala’s transparency, and their commitment to holding their hands up when there are things they could do better. This is an approach that serves us all- being able to take stock of the things that can be improved is a great way to educate and inspire, and just highlights the fact that we’re all on this journey together. None of us are perfect, and Shamabala knows that. 

Read their impact report here.

Latitude

Where: Henham park, Suffolk

When: 20-23 July 2023

Top Five Eco-friendly Festivals- image credit Latitude festival

                                                                          What makes Latitude eco-friendly?

Latitude’s Sustainability Charter identifies eight key areas:

  • Emissions and energy
  • Resource use and waste
  • Water
  • Food
  • Public engagement
  • Procurement
  • Local impacts

Within each area, it seems that Latitude festival is making some great attempts to become more eco-friendly, with targets to reduce greenhouse emission by 50% by 2030 and an ultimate aim to power the festival via 100% renewable energy too.

So what does this look like in practise? Latitude have signed up to the Vision 2025 pledge and are working with Julie’s Bicycle to reduce their environmental impact. All food sold at the festival comes in compostable packaging, there are plenty of recycling bins on site and reusable water bottles can be filled for free. 

This year, Latitude have taken the decision to not make new reusable cups for drinks, due to the impact involved in making them. Instead, you can use a cup from last year, a great move considering the fact that each cup needs to be reused 14 times to out-weight the impact of using a paper cup.

The bottom line on eco-friendly festivals 

It’s clear to see that festival organisers are making some really great changes in their bid to reduce their environmental impact, but at the end of the day the responsibility lies with us too. We’ve highlighted just five festivals here,  but we always advise you do your own research. Organisers should make their impact report available for you to read before you book, so take some time to look for it and reach out to them if you can’t find it.

How you get there and what you take with you always plays a huge role in how eco-friendly a festival can be, so if you can take public transport or car share then do it. The climate crisis is everyone’s problem, so let’s take ownership now and make some real changes. 

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FAQs

How can we make festivals more eco-friendly?

There are loads of ways that organisers can make festivals more eco-friendly, and ways that we can behave ourselves to reduce our carbon footprint too. Consider how you travel, what you bring with you and how you leave the site at the end of the weekend. Say no to single-use items and do your research to ensure you invest in festivals that are truly eco-friendly. 

Is Glastonbury eco-friendly?

Recent reports suggest that the 2022 Glastonbury festival saved nearly 600 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions and since it began in 2000 the organisers have planted an impressive 10,000 native trees and hedge plants to support the local environment. The trees alone will offset the emissions produced by the festival. Read more about their ecological policy here.


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